A new poll released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) suggests Americans generally believe social media has a more negative than positive influence on mental and emotional well-being.
The APA sponsored poll was conducted online from a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults during the period April 4-7, 2019, and from similar polls of about 1,000 adults in March 2018 and April 2017.
Researchers discovered more than one in three adults (38 percent) see social media usage as harmful to mental health, whereas nearly half (45 percent) see social media usage as having both positive and negative impact on mental health. Only 5 percent see it as having a positive impact.
Experts explain that while social media can help connect people, it can also leave people feeling more isolated. When asked about the connection between social media and loneliness, more than two-thirds of adults (67 percent) agree social media usage is related to feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Opinions on social media vary by generation and ethnicity. Millennials are more likely (73 percent) than baby boomers (62 percent) to agree with the connection between social media and loneliness.
African Americans (33 percent) are more likely than Caucasians (22 percent) or Hispanics (25 percent) to completely agree on this relationship between social media and loneliness.
Survey results revealed a stronger consensus on the effects of social medial among children and teens. Indeed, across ages, gender and ethnicities, people expressed concern about social media use among children and teens.
Nearly nine in ten adults (88 percent) think social media activity among kids/teens is concerning. The level of concern was also similar among people with children and those without children.
Positive use of social media to augment mental health was reported. About one in seven adults (14 percent) use a social media app to support their mental health. Not unexpectedly, younger adults are much more likely than older adults to do so.
Nearly a quarter of millennials (24 percent) say they use a social media app to support their mental health compared to only 3 percent of baby boomers.
Hispanic Americans (27 percent) and African Americans (17 percent) are more likely than Caucasians (9 percent) to say they use a social media app to support their mental health.
“These results reflect Americans concern with use of social media and its potential negative impacts,” said APA President Altha Stewart, M.D.
“While social media can have benefits and help keep us connected to friends and family, it’s important for adults, and for children and teens, to balance social media use with other activities and connecting with others in real life.”
Source: American Psychiatry Association